My neighbour, who knows I have a tech channel on YouTube, popped his head over the fence the other day with a, frankly, dubious question - wondering whether he could hide messages on his iPhone.
I didn’t go down the road of asking why because, to be honest, I didn’t want to know the answer but I did look up the answer.
Can You Hide Messages on iPhone?
There isn’t an easy or convenient way to hide a message or conversation in the messaging app on iPhone. However, whilst It’s not possible to completely hide messages on an iPhone you can use filters to hide messages you don’t want to see.
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Hide Messages By Deleting Them
Of course, the easiest way to prevent someone from inadvertently seeing a message is to delete it. You can delete an individual message by long pressing it to bring up a menu. Then click on More, which will select or highlight the message and give you the option to delete it.
If you’d rather delete the whole conversation, simply go back to your list of messages, and swipe left on the conversation to display the delete option.
Filtering Messages To Hide Them
But what if you want to keep the messages or conversation rather than delete it? Well, as I said you can’t hide them but you can filter them from your messages view. It’s not ideal but here’s how it works.
Start by going into Contacts and delete the contact whose messages you wish to hide.
Click on the contact’s name you wish to delete. You should see an option to Edit the contact’s details in the top right of the screen. After clicking on Edit, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen and choose delete.
Having deleted the contact now go into Settings. In Settings, scroll down to Messages and open your Messages settings. Scroll down again until you find the option to Filter Unknown Senders and enable it.
Now if we go back into the Messages app, you can see we have a Filter option in the top left corner of the screen. Clicking on Filters, will display three options, All Messages, Known Senders and Unknown Senders. By deleting the contacts of the people whose messages you wish to hide you are in effect separating them from the messages you receive from all your other ‘known’ contacts.
If you click to view Unknown Senders, there you should see all the messages from the contact you deleted.
Turn Off Message Notifications
To prevent messages notifications appearing on your lock screen or as banners at the top of your screen, in the messaging app, tap on the phone number of the contact you deleted and enable Hide Alerts. Now when you receive a message from that ‘unknown’ contact you won’t be alerted. You will just see a notification badge on the messages app on your iphone’s home screen.
Alternatively, you can disable notifications and alerts for all Unknown Senders by going back into Settings followed by Messages, and choosing Notifications. At the bottom of the screen click on Customise Notifications and disable the option to allow notifications from Unknown Senders.
If you want to be super stealthy you can also prevent the notification badge from appearing when you receive a new message by disabling notification badge alerts. However, just be aware that this will apply to all messages regardless of who they are sent from. So you’ll no longer see the badge icon for any new message from anyone. You’ll only know you have a new message by going into the messages app and checking your filters.
Having viewed your messages from your ‘Unknown’ contact, remember to go back into Known contacts so the conversation is no longer on screen when you next open the Messages app.
Of course, it’s worth noting, if you use the messaging app across all your other Apple devices, say your iPad or Macbook, you’ll likely need to adjust the notification settings to hide your conversations on those devices too.
Using An Alternative App To Hide Messages
If creating filters and turning off notifications seems like a lot of unnecessary mucking around (and frankly I’d have to agree) the alternative is to just use a different messaging app altogether.
My favourite is Signal, but Whatsapp or Wickr have similar options and will work just as well. To learn more about using Signal I recommend viewing my Signal playlist on YouTube. However, for this particular scenario, it’s a good idea to deny access to your contacts when setting up the app and deny notifications.
Having installed Signal, go into Settings by clicking on your avatar in the top left of the Signal window and click on Privacy. I would recommend enabling ’Hide Screen in App Switcher’ and ‘Screen Lock’, with the Screen Lock timer set to instant.
I would also check your Signal notifications, and turn off all notification content by choosing No name or content, which will prevent anything being displayed on your lock screen. It’s probably also a good idea to turn off any sound notifications too.
Now you and your contact can just use Signal without you having to worry about applying filters or anything appearing on screen. And when you open Signal you’ll be required to enter the pin code you created when you set up the app.
So that is how to hide messages on iPhone. If you found this post useful, I recommend checking out my YouTube channel for lots more similar tips and tricks.